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Archive for February, 2014

Love is essential ingredient in great career…

February 28th, 2014 Comments off

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Your #1 Job…

February 27th, 2014 Comments off

Your #1 Job...

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Don’t ask the same question twice — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

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If you want to truly endear yourself to your family, your co-workers, your boss, you business partners, your investors, everyone — endeavor to never ask the same question twice. When you ask a question of anyone, no matter who, make sure you capture the answer to that question for future reference. Even if you think you might never need that answer again, write it down. The fact is, you never know when or if a question is going to pop up again, so always err on the safer side and take notes so you never have to ask that question again.


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Why is asking the same question twice (more) such an issue? The problem doesn’t reside in the question itself but rather what it says about you as a person and your relationship with others. First, I think that asking the same question multiple times shows a lack of respect for those around you. You think it is easier to ask the person each time you need the answer instead of taking the time to learn the answer yourself. Instead of letting this person be a teacher or a mentor you are using them as the human equivalent of a filing cabinet. Even worse, your repetitive requests for the same answer impacts their work and takes their time away from solving the problems they need to solve. In some ways it shows that you think your time is worth more than theirs and that is simply rude.

Second, asking the same question more than once exhibits poor organizational and work skills to those around you. In any work situation, you want to demonstrate that you have the ability to grow in your work. You want to show can learn new skills and grow as an employee. Constantly asking the same questions makes it appear you either can’t, or don’t want to learn. Either of these is deadly to your career. Your managers will begin to question your worth and your co-workers will start to shun you. In many ways, you’ll simply become too much of a burden to keep around.

So, how do you retain and learn from all your questions? You first need to capture the questions and the answers you receive. I still carry a paper journal around for just such occasions. Even though I am big user of technology, it is often easier to jot down notes using pencil and paper than pulling out your smartphone or computer. Sure, you can enter the most important items into some computer system later, but capturing your questions and answers is always the first priority. Yes, it is easy to get wrapped up in solving a problem and forget to record the solution, but you are doing no one any favors when you do that. Help yourself and those around you by capturing this important information so you never have to ask for it again.

You also want to think about the answers you receive and see what new knowledge you can gain from them. Often one answer has many different applications in our lives far outside the area of the original question. Too often we move so quickly through life that we don’t take a moment to actually learn something. We ask the question, get the answer we need and then dash off to the next problem in line. If we don’t take a moment to actually think about our life and work, take a moment to actually learn something, we condemn ourselves of an endless treadmill of one question after another. Ask questions in order to learn something, not just solve the problem at hand.

I am sure we have all met, and even worked with, people who constantly ask you the same question again and again. We all know how frustrating that can become and yet we can sometimes do it ourselves, if only in smaller ways. Don’t ask the same question twice, if you can avoid it or unless you have a very good reason. Capture the answers you receive, put them to use and learn from them. If you do everyone will benefit – you, your coworkers, your business, your family. Most importantly, it will one more method of building the career that you deserve.

***

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Archive: Doing…or having done to you – from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 21st, 2014 Comments off

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It is rare for life to present you with a simple either/or situation. Normally, life is lived in shades of grey – an almost infinite set of possibilities. That said, while talking over career problems with some friends last night, we stumbled across a dichotomy that every careerist faces today. In your career, and in your life, you can either “do something” or have something done to you. You can either control your career or let someone else dictate what you do and when you do it.

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This dichotomy occurs whether you are working in a traditional corporate environment or for yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you are the most senior or the most junior member of the staff. We all have the power of “doing”, but if we fail to exercise that power, then we give up any chance of controlling our own career.

As my friends and I talked last night, I noticed one important aspect to our conversation. From the very start, we were focusing on the externalities of the situation. This person, this company, this organization was causing these particular problems for us. Once I realized this, I tried to bring the conversation around to internal strengths, weaknesses and threats. In the end, we only truly have control over ourselves and our own actions. If we focus our attention there, we will always have more effect. This is true for one important reason – while it is very difficult to change ourselves, it is nearly impossible to change others. They have to come to their own decisions about their lives and careers. You can only provide a good example and show them how life can be different. You can’t force them to change; you can only show them a path.

Sure, it can be very distressing to realize that you can’t have a direct impact on a situation that pains you greatly. We all see problems and injustices of varying levels, but they often require drastic or dangerous actions to effect them, if you can effect them at all. By focusing on ourselves and our actions, we can start the process moving in the best way possible. This also helps to prevent problems from devolving into acrimonious, personal battles that distract from the true problem at hand.

Let me be clear, “doing it” has nothing to do with taking advantage of others or engaging in unethical or criminal behavior. You are not trying to gain advantage at someone else’s expense, you a simply trying to build the best career you possibly can. The fact is, others have the power of “doing” just like you do. If they decide to abdicate that role, and let life happen to them, there is little you can do to stop it.

Neither should it stop you from taking those steps that are most important to you. Otherwise, we become a passive society, each waiting for someone else to tell us what to do. I only need point to history to show how dangerous such and environment can become. When the majority of the people are passive, there will always be those who will take advantage and turn the company, the corporation or the state to their own ends.

So, what form does this “doing” take? If you are in a corporate environment, there are several ways you can take action. If you are happy with the company, then you can work to cement your position in the company by reinforcing and enhancing the company’s goals. Building the company builds your job and your career. Additionally, in order to protect yourself against unforeseen changes, you should also have several independent projects in the works. Perhaps you can take a hobby and find some way to build this into your own business, or act as a consultant to other, non-competing companies, or set yourself up as an expert in a particular field to bring you income and prestige in your industry. Regardless of the form it takes, like any good stock investor, you need to diversify your activities and find those places where you “do” on a regular basis.

If you are already a freelancer, then you have already embraced this “doing, rather than having done to you” concept in some small way. Otherwise, you would have never struck on your own. That said, you need to address this issue every day and in every project or transaction. Your support structures are limited outside of a large company, so you have to build them internally, both mentally and in your business. You must always be “doing” perhaps even more than you do already. I know this is the case in my own personal career. No matter how much I do, there is always more I could be doing. Finding these opportunities for expansion are what drives your career forward.

In business, as in life, you can do something or you can have something done to you by others. It should be clear where you want to be in that equation. You have the ability, the talent and desire to do great things in your career, but this can only happen when you turn your focus inward and start doing what truly matters most to you.

***

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Video: “A Year of Opportunity” with Douglas E. Welch — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 19th, 2014 Comments off

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Building a successful career in 2014 requires that we focus on 3 things this year, including:

1. Attracting Opportunity
2. Recognizing Opportunity
3. Accepting Opportunity

Join Douglas E. Welch for deeper exploration of the Year of Opportunity and what it can bring for you!

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying ““Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” This is still true today. Work that expands our lives and careers should be sought out and embraced, even if there is a bit of hard work involved. In fact, most opportunities worth pursuing require hard work of some sort. Life doesn’t often give you gold simply for being you. You need to share your knowledge and show your worth and this often means some long hours, if not actual physical labor.

50 is just a number – – from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 17th, 2014 Comments off

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The day has arrived. I can no longer pretend I am 25 anymore, even if my mental age seems stuck around that time. This weekend I turned 50 and while it certainly wasn’t unexpected, it can be a little challenging sometimes. This is especially true when you notice that some people begin to treat you differently. Knowing only your age, they think you might not be hip and cool (like I ever was) and very, very set in your ways. They might expect you to be conservative, careful and overly critical of the changes around you. Those of you who know me though , through these podcasts and elsewhere, know that I constantly fight against such issues, I try to keep my mind open, my thinking fresh and my curiosity turned way, way up. This is what I think it means to be 50.


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While I often joke about being “old”, I never really feel that old, unless you count the week I spent in the hospital back in 2012. Sitting alone and unable to sleep gives you a lot of time to think — and not always about good things. That said, my thinking often turned to what I was going to do with the next few weeks, months and years. I knew my career had been coming to a close for months, if not years, and this event was making it clear that I needed to make a change — a change that I had wanted for a long time. Now it was time to put that change into motion. So, over the last year I have referred my clients elsewhere and focused more on my new media work, writing and photography. As you might imagine, it feels really good. Sure, there is still the stress of money to be made, school payments, new jobs to be found, but overall that stress is at least working towards something I want. That makes any stress more bearable.

Over the years I have learned a very important lesson — the timeline of your life will never match that of your friend or family. Society often teaches us that we must accomplish stuff by a certain age or we have failed in some way. We have to have a successful job and a spouse by 25, a house soon after, other luxury items by 30 and be a millionaire by the time we are 40. Of course, none of this is true, but the stress caused by trying to live up to this timeline is very, very real. I am sure you have seen others burn themselves out in an attempt to live by someone else’s timeline and yet many people continue to try.

Sure, if you want to have kids you can’t wait too long, but most other events in the timeline can happen at any time in your life. You can gain great success late in life, early in life, whenever. You can find the love of your life when you are 16 or 60. You can never really tell what life is going to throw at you and trying to force the issue can leave you wondering what it was all about. If there is one wizened thing I have learned in 50 years, you can only live your own life. Others may think they know better, want “only what is in your best interest”, know better than you, but you are the one that has to look at yourself in the mirror each morning. You have to be able to live with yourself and that often means rejecting the advice — and pressure — of others and doing what you think best.

Remember over the course of your life that 18, 21, 25, 30, 40 and even 50 are just numbers on a timeline. They mean nothing by themselves. They don’t require you to act in a certain way, do certain things, or feel a failure of you haven’t met one of society’s hard and fast markers. Also, no matter how old you get, it isn’t over until it is over. Don’t stop living until you are forced to. To become old before your time is a waste for yourself and everyone who cares for you. Keep learning. Keep striving. Keep making the world a better place to live as long as you have the power. If you do, I think you will find that 50, even 90, is just a number and means nothing to the overall scheme of your life.

***

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Archive: Is that all there is? Is my career going to be a repetition of this day…forever?

February 14th, 2014 Comments off

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There is a day in our career when a fearful thought can strike us? We are sitting at our desk, doing something we have done a thousand times in the past and the thought creeps up on us. – is that all there is? Is this the sum total of our life for the foreseeable future? Are we doomed to spend the remainder of our days shuffling paper from one pile to another? Scary, isn’t it?

Let me be the first to assure you, though, that everyone, myself included has days like this. There is a certain amount of repetition in every job and there are times when it can overwhelm us. Usually this comes at the end of a long push on a particular project or cycle when our reserves, both mental and physical, are at their lowest ebb. We are already tired and this allows us to slip into deep thoughts about our future legacy and security. Instead of seeing the possibilities, though, we only see the drudgery we have been living with the last few months. Instead of seeing the future, we only see the past.

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Breaking out of a funk like this can be difficult, but it is critical to your own wellbeing. You can’t wallow in this world too long or you might actually start believing that this week, this day will simply repeat itself for the rest of your life – a career Groundhog Day – like the Bill Murray movie where he is forced to re-live the same day over and over until he gets it right. The fact is, there are many ways of breaking out of your rut, but you have to have the foresight to use them whenever you are feeling stalled.

The first step in escaping this trap of self-doubt is to change one small thing today. When I say small, I truly mean small. Have a different type of coffee. Pick a different place for lunch. Take different people with you – or go alone, if you usually have lunch with your co-workers. The smaller the change, the more likely you will be to actually do it, so while you might feel a little silly, do something small.

Taking a small step, making a small change provides you a number of benefits. First, you are reminded that you are still in control of your life at its most basic level. Even if you are feeling trapped in your job, you can still make decisions about how to live outside of your work. It also shows how much you can effect your overall happiness with one, seemingly tiny, action. Life and work don’t have to be drudgery if we still have the power to change them. See! Things are looking up already.

Continue these small changes day after day, altering a different action each day. Before you know it, you will start to see the possibilities that life provides again. This builds a momentum that will soon have you back on track – moving forward in your career instead of spinning your wheels. This momentum will grow and you will find that you want to make bigger and bigger changes. Instead of asking “Is that all there is?” you will being asking “Why does it have to be that way?” and develop ideas to change things.

I understand, though, that there are truly desperate situations that some of you might face You might feel trapped in your job due to lack of opportunities in your area, family and financial commitments or more. Don’t despair, though, because no matter how powerless you might feel in your career choices, you can still seek out accomplishments in your personal life. There is nothing to stop you from pursuing new and exciting activities, hobbies or even careers when you are not involved at work. In fact, I believe that this is an absolute requirement to protect your own well-being. I have talked with many people who feel trapped by circumstances, but I believe that if you can start to build some interest in your personal life, this same excitement and drive for change will eventually spill over into your work life. Suddenly, one day, you will see an opportunity for change in your career that you never saw before. The changes in your personal life can open a door in your career and give you some hope for the future.

While we can all become a bit overwhelmed with our work, the worst thing we can do is succumb to the false belief that it must remain that way. Through small changes, which anyone can do, we can slowly pull our way out of the repetition and sameness that give rise to troubling thoughts and even, in the worst moments, despair. Building a momentum of change through small actions will get our thoughts and careers rolling again, eventually creating a juggernaut that will be harder to de-rail in the future, Change begets change. Movement begets movement. Taking even the first step can start you down the road to an exciting new life and career.

***

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Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – February 10, 2014

February 10th, 2014 Comments off

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Job Openings from Tuesdays with Transitioners Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, organizer of Tuesdays with Transitioners posted these job listings recently. Join Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup group to receive these job listings directly via Meetup.com and email. 

  • Young startup is looking for full- and part-time staff (NYC and remotely)
  • Receptionist/Legal Assistant, Kelman & Kelman (Studio City)
  • Appointment Setters
  • Part-time religious instruction at Temple Ramat Zion, Northridge
  • Front Office Staff, Dental Office (Woodland Hills)
  • Office Manager, Commercial Production Company (New York)
  • Executive Assistant to Chief Content Officer, All Def Digital
  • Executive Assistant, All Def Digital
 
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Archive: Everyone is now a producer — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 7th, 2014 Comments off

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The world is changing as it always has and the work world is no exception. There are careers available today that have never existed before while careers that have been around for decades are rapidly disappearing. Today, though, I am seeing deeper changes. Not only is our work changing, but our very concepts of work and career are changing. In fact, in some ways, I am seeing 180 degree changes from the past. The old rules are failing to apply to many of us and the new rules are only just forming. This column is my attempt to better understand these changes and give you some idea of where we are all headed.

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As you may know, I have been involved in podcasting since its earliest days. Over the years, this has led to much more computer consulting work that is podcasting-related. Along with my computer knowledge, though, I am starting to actually assist others in producing their own podcasts, working more on the creative side than with the technology itself. My conversations with these new clients have helped me develop some interesting ideas about how work and career are changing. I am finding, though, that these changes don’t just apply to creative careers, but are beginning to effect all careers, regardless of the type of work you do.

1. Increasingly, you drive your work and career, not some external force

In the past we may have accepted whatever work presented itself and been happy. Actors would listen to their agents and managers and high-tech workers would seek out any company that had a job opening in their area of expertise. We always looked to what others were offering us and chose between those options.

Today, though, I can see a 180 degree turn. As the costs involved in starting your own company, producing your own television show or writing and selling your own book drop to almost zero, there are fewer and fewer reasons not to pursue these careers. Why search out a job working for someone else, when you can develop your own projects, or your career, working at what appeals to you most?

Sure, not everyone will want to start their own company or develop their own projects. There will always be traditional jobs and careers to fulfill their needs. Those people who want to move beyond these traditional roles, though, are seeing immense new opportunities, with lower and lower risks, allowing them to pursue their career dreams, whatever they might be.

2. You must become responsible for developing your own projects

In such a changing environment, one of the most dramatic changes is your focus. You are now responsible for developing your own projects. The era of “the pitch” is rapidly coming to an end. In the past, you could develop an idea for a television show, book or high-tech project or product and then “shop” that project around to producers who had the cash necessary to implement it. Hopefully, you would find the funding and your project would become reality.

Now the situation is much different. In most cases, you are expected to have a working prototype, a completed episode, an independent version of your film, before others are willing to take a risk on you. You have to have more than a proposal. In some cases, you need a complete product, Where before others drove this process, you are now in charge, for good or ill. You need to conceive your own projects, fund them and implement them on your own,

Just as before, not everyone will want to take on this new role, even though there are significant benefits to be found. These people will, at the very least, need to find others who can assist them in what I call these producing roles to make their creations a reality.

At its very core, for you and I, this means that instead of looking for others to “give” us a job, we must take an active role in creating a career and not simply letting a career happen to us. We have to find those things that are most interesting to us and then develop ways of making them happen, whether through the traditional methods currently in play or the exciting, new and a bit scary, world in which we now live.

***

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Carefully consider the career advice you receive — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 4th, 2014 Comments off

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As a long time career writer, I read a lot about careers. I follow career advisors and HR professionals on social media,  read their blogs, browse magazines and other sources. One common source of career advice are human resources (HR) professionals. They are often consulted for inside information on what it takes to get hired, how to approach the hiring process and more. Unfortunately, I find that a lot of guidance and advice they give is often designed to make their life and work easier, not build the career you deserve.


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I don’t want you to think you should dismiss all advice from HR professionals. That would be foolhardy. They are, after all, the first line of the hiring process and can have great control over whether you interviewed or your resume is buried in the slush pile. What I am asking you to do, though, is carefully consider the advice you receive and decide for yourself if it matches with your own wants, needs and desires. When you are negotiating with HR by yourself (and everything from first contact to hiring is just that, a negotiation), you need to understand and protect your own interests, just as HR professionals are protecting their interests and the company’s.

I believe there is an inherent conflict of interest when HR professionals give career advice. They want “good workers”, but that often doesn’t correlate with a good career for you. Many companies today are still seeking interchangeable “cogs” to fit into their business. They don’t want people who have their own brand, their own ideas, their own idea of what makes a good career. Therefore, much HR advice is designed to remove your uniqueness, smooth off your rough edges and make you “fit in.”

If you are looking for “just a job” that might be fine. You can follow their directions, check all the boxes and, hopefully, get that job. What you might find, though, is you may not be very happy in the job you worked so hard to achieve. If you deny your own, unique desires in your career, you are likely to end up with a job you don’t really want or one that doesn’t meet your expectations.

As with any job, HR professionals only really care about their job, their work and their career. That’s simply the way that life is. It is the same for everyone. No one else can care as much about your career as you do. Therefore it is up to you to decide if their HR advice is designed to help you or simply make their life and work easier.

I have phrase that always comes to mind whenever I am receiving advice about anything in my life, “Beware buying advice and products from the same person.” Too often there is a conflict of interest inherent in the transaction that can lead you astray. I am not saying it is always present, or always calculated, but I have seen it often enough watch for it whenever I do business. In the worst cases, individuals can be giving advice ONLY in order to sell your something — something you might not need or want. They are looking only for their own advantage. For me, taking too much advice, too deeply, from those who might one day be judging your hiring fitness, should be watched just as carefully.

The biggest issue for me is that if you follow typical HR advice, you will spend your days keeping your head down and your mouth shut, taking only what is offered you and strictly toeing the company line. To me, this is very dangerous for any career in the 21st Century. In the years that come, I believe it will be those who stand out from the crowd (and who stand up for themselves) who will be the most successful.

Hiding your achievements, your unique skills, your innovative ideas leaves you at the mercy of the hiring company. Many companies don’t want you talking about such things because then their will be competition for your skills and they might have to pay you more to hire or retain you. Of course, as you can see, this greatly limits your potential and success. It is clearly a benefit for the company and a detriment to yourself and your career. Be aware of this trap and think carefully about your actions. Every person in every career must be able to tell people “what they do and how well they do it” or they risk hiding themselves away from career opportunities that might come to them.

Take advice from all quarters. Listen to what people say, how they say it and then consider the conflicts of interest that might exist. Carefully consider which advice you follow and who that advice benefits the most. You may be surprised to find that others don’t have your best interest at heart.

***

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